LOURDES AND THE SOUL

Trigger Warning:

The following deals with death and suicide.

The snow powdered the ground as Elaine unlocked the front door and pushed it open. The creak of the hinges echoed in the empty home. She closed the white steel door and latched it. When she spun around, the thudding of rocks hitting the door and the loud taunts from a group of teenagers from her tenth-grade class ringed in her ears.

With her head held low, Elaine shuffled into the kitchen and dropped the backpack on the dinner table. Sheshifted to the refrigerator, and her eyes widened, a piece of paper hung on the freezer door.

Sweetheart,

I won’t be home tonight. 

I am staying at Shelly’s, or is it Sharon’s, oh well, it’s someone’s house.

Love,
Dad.

Elaine sulked as she left the kitchen and up the stairs to her room. At least he left me a note this time.

Elaine changed clothes and headed to the bathroom. She shut the door and pressed the lock on the doorknob. Her bunny slippers ears flopped back and forth as she sauntered to the cold porcelain bathtub. Elaine pulled the stopper up, wrapped her small fingers around the handle, and twisted it on. Steam rose as the water rushed out like a waterfall.

The young girl placed a candle on each of the four corners of the tub and lit them. The heat of the fire released a relaxing scent of lavender. She untied the robe, and it fell to the white tile floor. Elaine stepped into the tub and slid her way in, warming up her skin as she sat in the water.

With her hair in a bun, she peered over her left arm. The light of the candle flickered off the metallic surface of a razor blade. Next to it, a note.

Dear Father,

I can’t stand this anymore. The teasing at school about my size, my glasses, and the clothes I wear. I am tired of being shoved and stomped on. I can’t deal with them yelling at me because I won’t do their homework or let them cheat off me in class. I can’t take the teachers siding with them over me because they have money, and we don’t. 

Plus, I miss mom. She stood by me while you were cheating on her while she was sick. You weren’t there when she passed away in the hospital. You were too busy with one of your waitresses like you are now.

Goodbye,
Elaine.

The fifteen-year-old child shut her eyes and rested her head on the wall.

“Elaine,” a voice whispered.

Elaine snapped her eyes open. Beside her was her mother, floating in the air.

The apparition raised her arm. Her delicate fingers beckoned Elaine. “Come with me.”

Elaine closed her eyes and counted to ten. When she opened them, the apparition was still there, surrounded by a luminous white light. “Mother.” Tears streaked down the child’s cheek, and she reached out and grasped her mother’s hand. “Where’re we going?”

A corner of the ghost’s mouth lifted and nodded its head. “You will see.”

No sooner, Elaine stood; the ghost whisked her away to a damp place. The sound of running water echoed off the stone walls surrounding her. She glanced at her mother. “Where are we?”

The woman extended her hand in front of her. “Grotte de Lourdes.” She stared at her daughter. “Come.”

Elaine followed the ghost to a stone tub full of fresh water.

“Please, daughter. Step into the bath.”

Elaine did what her mother asked and stepped in the cool water and sat. Goosebumps rose over her body.

The ghost placed one hand on her forehead and another on her back. “Now, lean back.” The spirit pushed her daughter under the water for a few seconds and released her.

Elaine opened her eyes to find herself back in her bathtub. She sat up out of the water and breathed. Hope rushed over her. Her depression disappeared, and joy filled her heart. She ripped up the suicide note and threw away the blade. A breath of cool air blew by her ear.

“The water of Lourdes heals more than physical wounds and diseases. It can heal the soul.”

“If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States.”

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255

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